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Tips from the culture desk: Circus, lots of films and a new Goethe

We have tributes to two great filmmakers this week — Mohamed Khan and Youssef Chahine — as well as a countrywide circus tour, a contemporary dance film, a discussion about Alexandria in the modern world, the launch of the Modern Egypt project and a new Goethe Institut.

Mahatat’s Circ’Us — all week, multiple cities

Over 20 Egyptian, French and German performing artists embark on a multiple-city circus tour today. The acrobats, street actors, jugglers and musicians start in Port Said and then visit eight other cities, including Damanhour, Mansoura and New Damietta, before ending the tour on October 18 at Cairo’s Geneina Theater. In each location, they hold workshops and activities for children and teenagers, then do a show. Organized by Mahatat for Contemporary Art, the Institut Français, Goethe-Institut, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Vuesch e.V. – Verein zur Überwindung der Schwerkraft, Nomadays and the Drosos Foundation.

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More details here. All events are free of charge.

Alexandria and the search for meaning — Monday

Alexandria Scholars, a Facebook group initiated and directed by scholar and AUC sociology professor Amro Ali, is taking its online discussions to the real world with the support of the Swedish Institute in Alexandria. The first discussion in a planned series of talks asks, rather broadly: “How can Alexandria reposition itself in the modern world and what are currently the city’s strengths, limitations, and sense of identity?” Speakers include Yehia Shawkat(10 Tooba, Shadow Ministry of Housing), Reem Eltaib (Radio Tram founder and former assistant to Alexandria’s governor) and Karim-Yassin Goessinger (founder and program director of the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences). The series aims to bring together researchers, writers, intellectuals, civil society representatives and political figures to discuss Alexandria’s pluralist origins from historical, urban and philosophical viewpoints.

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6.30 pm October 10, Swedish Institute in Alexandria, 57 July 26 Avenue, Corniche al-Manshiya. Seats limited, so register via email: register@swedalex.org. Talk is in English. (Photo from the Alexandria Governorate website.)

Vertical Road by Akram Khan — Monday

In their first collaboration, Cairo Contemporary Dance Center and Zawya cinema are screening Vertical Road, a film by Indian dancer and choreographer Akram Khan, based on an acclaimed Sufi-inspired contemporary dance performance of the same name from 2010, with a score by Nitin Sawhney. It’s followed by a Q&A with lead dancer Salah El Brogy, who’s from Ismailia.

7 pm October 10, Zawya, behind Cinema Odeon, downtown Cairo. See Facebook event here.

New Goethe Institut opens — 36-hour program on Thursday and Friday

Almost 12 years in the making, there’s now a new Dokki headquarters for Germany’s Goethe Institut and it’s hosting a marathon arts program to inaugurate it. Tucked between two historic villas, the innovative building is set to host language classes, cultural programing and the library.

Changing Space, Broadening Perspectives runs continuously from noon Thursday until midnight Friday, with concerts, a club night, film screenings, discussions, try-out-German classes, puppetry and building tours — all activities intended to reflect the Goethe’s commitment to German-Egyptian cultural exchange. Thursday sees live drawing by Twins Cartoon and Mohamed Wahba, a Bavarian music concert by German family band Unterbiberger Hofmusic joined by Port Said’s Tanboura folk band, and a set by Turkish-German DJ I-Pek. On Friday, Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Arts School presents a circus performance in the morning, Mohamed Antar and Ayman Mabrouk play an afternoon concert, BuSSy Project enacts a storytelling performance and Goethe CEO (previously its Cairo-based regional director) Johannes Eibert will discuss contemporary Egyptian literature with Alaa Al-Aswani (Yacoubian Building) before a concert by Egyptian band Salalem.

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Photo by Roger Anis, courtesy Goethe Institut. The program (in Arabic) can be found here. Free.

The Incomplete Works of Youssef Chahine — Wednesday

Cimatheque continues its exciting new public programming with, among other things, a series of discussions around the work of prolific filmmaker and Misr International Films founder Youssef Chahine. Film critic Mohamed El Masry will lead the first discussion on the incomplete and lesser-known works of the director, who is one of Egypt’s most famous, yet his work is arguably under-discussed. Accompanying this talk is a new two-week archival exhibition focused on Chahine’s work.

6 pm to 11 pm October 12, Cimathèque, 19a Adly Street, downtown Cairo. Free. 

Mohamed Khan tribute — starts Thursday

Zawya will screen a strong six-day selection of bittersweet, character-driven films made by Mohamed Khan, who passed away this summer, during the neo-realist heydey of the 1980s. The films, playing daily at 7.30 pm, start with 1983’s visceral street-football epic The Artful (October 13, English subtitles). Then there’s 1984’s food-centric Gone with No Return (October 14, French subtitles), 1988’s exploration of the fascist psychology An Important Man’s Wife (October 15, French subtitles), 1989’s heartbreaking Hend and Camellia’s Dreams(October 16, French subtitles), 1990’s vivid and bizarre Supermarket (October 17, French subtitles) and 1992’s Knight of the City (October 18, French subtitles). Seeing these on the big screen is a chance not to be missed.

Zawya, behind Cinema Odeon, downtown Cairo. Tickets LE25. Details here.

Modern Egypt Project launch — starts Friday

A year-long British Museum pilot project called Modern Egypt, curated by Cairobserver’s Mohamed El Shahed, launches with a pop-up installation of everyday objects in downtown Cairo’s Kodak Passageway, before they head to the UK. While the exhibition itself will be open until October 19, Friday sees some introductory remarks by Elshahed, followed by presentations on the museums by the Women and Memory Forum and Al-Ismaelia for Real Estate Developent. These will be followed by a discussion on using everyday material culture in museum projects. October 15 sees artist Huda Lutfi speak about the incorporation of everyday objects in her work, and on October 16 collector Amgad Naguib speaks about collecting objects from Egypt’s recent history.

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7 pm October 14, 15 and 16 at the Kodak Passageway, Adly Street, across from the synagogue, downtown Cairo. Free.

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